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Smer plans to elect new general prosecutor within weeks

Prime Minister Robert Fico declared on June 5 that there are no legal obstacles to parliament voting to elect a new general prosecutor as early as at the next regular parliamentary session scheduled on June 18, despite an ongoing case before the Constitutional Court dealing with this very subject. The prime minister’s statement came after the Constitutional Court earlier in the day suspended an amendment to the Act on the Organisation of the Constitutional Court passed by Fico’s Smer party on April 30, pending an assessment of its compliance with the constitution.

Prime Minister Robert Fico declared on June 5 that there are no legal obstacles to parliament voting to elect a new general prosecutor as early as at the next regular parliamentary session scheduled on June 18, despite an ongoing case before the Constitutional Court dealing with this very subject. The prime minister’s statement came after the Constitutional Court earlier in the day suspended an amendment to the Act on the Organisation of the Constitutional Court passed by Fico’s Smer party on April 30, pending an assessment of its compliance with the constitution.

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška announced that MPs are free to submit their nominations for a new general prosecutor by 16:00 on June 13, the TASR newswire wrote. The amendment, approved by the Smer-dominated parliament via fast-tracked proceedings, was aimed at resolving the deadlock at the court vis-a-vis a legal dispute between Jozef Čentéš, who was elected by MPs in June 2011 to be general prosecutor, and President Ivan Gašparovič, who has refused to formally appoint Čentéš to the job. Commenting on that case, Fico earlier said that a general prosecutor might not be elected and appointed until June 2014, when Gašparovič steps down. The prime minister referred to statements made by Gašparovič in which the latter said that that he would not appoint Čentéš under any circumstances. Fico stated that “even the Constitutional Court cannot force the president to change his mind”. In a ruling last year the Constitutional Court ruled that the president could refuse to appoint parliament’s choice of general prosecutor, but that to do so he must provide a valid justification, something which Čentéš – and the opposition – alleges he has not done.

Fico refused to disclose any of Smer's potential candidates for the post, stating that an announcement would made as soon as a new date for the vote was known.

Fico announced the new development after Wednesday's cabinet meeting, during which he was notified about the Constitutional Court’s decision to suspend the new law, the SITA newswire wrote. Fico claimed that he “never comments” on decisions by the Constitutional Court and that he did not plan to start now, but then stated "But this is really too much".

The Sme daily wrote that Fico would not confirm whether Smer would propose Jaroslav Čižnár, who is the head of the Bratislava Regional Prosecutor’ Office and the prime minister’s former schoolmate, for the job.

The opposition has protested against the planned vote, Sme wrote, quoting Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH) leader Ján Figeľ as saying that a new election before the Constitutional Court decides would be a flagrant violation of the constitution.

Sources: TASR, SITA, Sme

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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